ICUBE Startup Pivots during the COVID-19 Pandemic

CivicsEngine is a non-partisan company that works with campaigns, election officials and other types of political entities to create Civic Engagement Opportunities, which are volunteer, internships and job positions geared towards high school and university students. According to the founder of CivicsEngine, Michael Goldman Brown Jr, the start-up builds more meaningful internship structures by not only connecting students with the political entities but also through ensuring those opportunities are impactful and educational experiences.

“Most students have a difficult time interacting with government entities because it is such an obscure process for them to navigate around. What CivicsEngine sets out to do is essentially, bridging this gap”, Michael said.

Like any other start-up companies, CivicsEngine is also facing tremendous challenges induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The biggest issue is that the pandemic imposes challenges on connecting students with the political entities and elective officials. Initially, we conceptualized that all those activities would be conducted through in-person interactions. However, the current lockdown prevents that from happening. Also, the virtual internship is hard to translate the workload management and the culture that is fostered via conventional activities”, Michael claimed.

In spite of the enormous uncertainties, CivicsEngine chose to adapt its model into the current context.

“Now, we are creating virtual civic engagement opportunities in which students can participate in campaigns and other activities virtually. This is something we’re looking to get launched in June. Additionally, we have sought to provide services which assist campaigns who have been disrupted by the pandemic. In the US, many elected positions require candidates to collect petition signatures in order to be on the party primary ballot. We created a test system that allows petitions to be submitted digitally in jurisdictions that no longer require signatures be completed in person. After shifting everything online, candidates are able to collect petition signature virtually instead of visiting door-by-door or in public areas. In fact, this change brings more benefits. People can be less receptive and less interested if they are approached randomly in person, so collecting signatures virtually in some instances has the potential to create better impressions for the campaign and more positive impact for the candidate”, Michael explained.

At the end, Michael addressed “We constantly tried to reflect upon the process of what CivicsEngine is trying to accomplish. Although we are faced with a critical challenge to our model, we keep thinking how we can adapt to this new context. Because our mission has always been engaging people and strengthening the bond of democracy, we will continue to rise to the challenges of COVID-19 and there is still lot needs to be done.”


Learn more about CivicsEngine

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Indigenous business training program created by RedBird Circle Inc. in partnership with UofT Libraries, ICUBE UTM and The Bridge at UTSC

An experiential learning program that follows the school 3 semesters schedule, for anyone with a great idea who wants to make it happen.

A boutique-style remote program to support your business development and help you grow through one-on-one support. This program is open all year.

A student-led creative studio with intends to serve the prototyping and design needs of our ventures and small businesses in our community.

This 2-day retreat is designed to help you reflect on your journey, what drives you, all the hats you wear and what is next for you and your social enterprise.